The Odd Couple has been revitalized and I couldn’t be happier. There is a rich history to this show, spanning 47 years.
In 1968, The Odd Couple movie was released. That was when I fell in love with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, an unstoppable force. I’ll be honest though – the movie wasn’t as funny so much as it was dramatic. I recently watched this film again and for some reason don’t remember it being as serious. I was stressed out during the whole first half, and only really laughed during the double-date scene near the end. The film really took on the play, giving both a dramatic and sometimes humorous performance. The 1970-75 television show solved this dramatic emphasis by flipping the dynamic upside down. When I think Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, I remember lots of laughs, which is helped by an audience laugh track. (There are still episodes of the original television show on Hulu.)
When I heard CBS would be creating this show 40 years after the original series ended, I was ecstatic. The Odd Couple has a place on television today as an incredible sitcom story. Here’s my take on Thursday’s premiere.
The show opens with Oscar (Matthew Perry) wrapping his radio sports segment from home, in his pigsty of an apartment. He is sloppy, crude, and rough on the outside. A real man’s man. Not long after we first meet Oscar, Felix (Thomas Lennon) knocks on the door: he’s a wreck. He’s getting divorced, has nowhere to go, and came to his old college pal for guidance and help. Felix is over-dramatic, OCD, well-dressed and articulate. Everything Oscar isn’t. You would think these two wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be friends, but that’s the beauty of this story. Even though they act like an old married couple, arguing and disagreeing with each other on every front, they truly care for one another. Just like the original movie suggests, Oscar and Felix need each other. They are divorced and alone, and their personalities make them difficult for anyone to get along with. They use their own strengths to help their friend’s weaknesses.
The Odd Couple pays homage to its predecessors with a vintage title sequence and familiar soundtrack, which only makes the show that much more meaningful. Jokes from the movie and television show appear in the remake, but still remain fresh and relevant. My favorite appears in this photo, where Felix Unger leaves notes for Oscar, signing them “F.U.” It appears to confuse Oscar, only adding to the hilarity of their situation.
“Pick up your socks, F.U. It took me two days to figure out F.U. was Felix Unger!”
If I was casting The Odd Couple, I never would have thought Matthew Perry (Go On, Friends) and Thomas Lennon (Sean Saves the World, Reno 911) – but boy was I an idiot not to think about pairing these two together! The chemistry, mannerisms, energy that these actors bring is a breath of fresh air! I was in love with these two after their first scene together! Their timing and back-and-forth is spot on and when the episode ended, I groaned. I can’t believe I have to wait a whole week to see these two again.
Along with Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon, comes an ensemble which includes: Leslie Bibb (About a Boy, Burning Love, Popular), Lindsay Sloane (Horrible Bosses, Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Dave Foley (Spun Out, Kids in the Hall), Yvette Nicole Brown (Community, Pound Puppies, Drake & Josh), and Wendell Pierce (The Michael J. Fox Show, The Wire).
They have stacked this show with funny people, and leading the helm is a great and unexpected duo. I not only hope people catch onto this incredibly funny and endearing show, but if this chemistry and clever writing continues, I hope that it generates Emmy buzz. The Odd Couple is on CBS on Thursdays, at 8:30/7:30c.
“Clearly, you were sent from your planet to tidy ours.” -Oscar